Meet Francene Nguyen

Merchant Development Manager, Sezzle

A free flight to Twin Cities Startup Week led to a job offer. Today, this California native finds herself solving big problems in FinTech from Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

Francene was looking for more.

In Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Francene found what she had been hoping for in her new home—a place where she can connect to opportunity and community.


Merchant Development Manager, Sezzle

Francene was looking for more.

More time out of her day. More work-life balance. More collaboration across technology startups and teams. More community. 

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Francene was set to pursue an exciting career after college in FinTech – financial technology.

Ready to make a move away from Silicon Valley, she heard about Twin Cities Startup Week, a premier event showcasing the best from the Startup Capital of the North. Each year, more than 10,000 people participate in Twin Cities Startup Week events and aligned efforts like Food Ag Ideas Week, the MANOVA Health Summit, Blacks in Technology conference, and more.

Through Twin Cities Startup Week’s Fly-In Program, an opportunity for a free flight to visit this free innovation festival, Francene thought she’d give Minneapolis-Saint Paul a shot. At the festival she met Sezzle CEO Charlie Youakim, a startup founder who helped lead events along with innovation leaders at many of the world’s top financial institutions.

And a month after visiting MSP for the first time, Francene accepted a job offer and moved to the region.

“When I originally heard about the fly-in program I had no idea what it was,” admitted Francene. “So when I first heard about it I looked it up and saw some videos. It looked really cool, and it just exceeded my expectations.”

Francene came to check out the tech scene in MSP, but ended up doing one better: meeting her future employer, Sezzle. “A month later I received a job offer and here I am, still doing FinTech.”

Coming from what can be a secretive and cut-throat tech region, Francene was immediately impressed with the community-focused culture of MSP’s tech community. “The scene in MSP seams very fun, very collaborative,” says Francene. “When there are other startups thriving there’s a lot of support and a lot of pride for everyone to see success coming out of MSP.”

Outside of work, Francene has enjoyed a greater balance between work and play.

“I was commuting two hours to work,” Francene says reflecting on her experience in Silicon Valley. “When I moved here, I left my car behind and just made sure to bring my coats,” she laughs. “Now I am able to walk everywhere. I walk to work, walk to the store, take the light rail. It’s very easy.”

Less time commuting means more time for Francene to stay engaged with MSP’s robust technology communities both inside and outside of work, as well as local groups like Young Professionals of Minneapolis.

“What I like about the culture here is that there’s a common theme of community. That was one of the factors that further cemented my decision to move to MSP.”


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What I like about the culture here is that there’s a common theme of community. That was one of the factors that further cemented my decision to move to MSP.

Francene Nguyen

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